You just couldn’t wait to bite into that sizzling slice of pizza and BAM. Mouth burn. It happens to the best of us. But now what? Here are six ways you can treat a burn on the roof of your mouth, plus a list of foods and activities to avoid as you heal.
Bonus: We also have a rundown of other reasons why you have a burning sensation in your mouth.
Superficial burns tend to heal without scaring within 5 to 10 days. But that doesn’t mean they’re not annoying AF in the meantime. Here are six ways to reduce burn pain and speed up the healing process at home.
1. Cold food or drinks
Let’s start with the obvious. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), one of the best ways to treat a first-degree burn is to apply a cool compress to the area. While you can’t really do that inside your mouth, a cold drink can do the trick.
Sip on a glass of ice water or suck on an ice cube to help ease the pain. You can also reach for a tasty treat like a popsicle or sorbet. Plus, it’s a pretty good excuse to eat some ice cream 😉.
2. Mouth rinses
Ready to rub salt in your wound? Well, not rub, it’s more like rinse. According to a 2016 study, salt water rinses can help improve oral ulcer symptoms and promote healthy gums. The rinses may also help heal wounded tissue and provide short-term burn pain relief.
To do a salt water rinse:
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a cup of cool water.
- Swish it around your mouth for up to 30 seconds.
- Spit, don’t swallow.
- Rinse your mouth out with regular water.
- Repeat up to three times a day.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can temporarily ease discomfort. Ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are all solid choices. You can also opt for an oral anesthetic, which can help numb the pain. Just be sure to check the dosage before use.
BTW, oral gels and ointments like Orajel are fab for small burns. But they’re not designed to treat seriously scalded skin.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera isn’t just an all-star sunburn remedy. That’s right! This powerful plant can also ease mouth burns. But before you smear a spoonful of aloe vera gel in your mouth, make sure to pick a product that’s OK for oral use. Some aloe vera products are only designed for topical use.
You can also sip some aloe vera juice or try a rinse that contains aloe vera extract. Just keep in mind, we need more studies to show if these methods work as well as gels.
5. Yogurt or milk
There’s a reason why guests get a glass of milk on “Hot Ones.” Milk has been shown to relieve the effects of capsaicin, the active compound in chili peppers that make them so spicy 🥵. But milk can also have a positive effect on actual burns.
Cow milk is a good source of lactic acid, which can gently exfoliate dead skin cells from the burned area. It also contains antioxidants, like vitamin A. That vitamin has some sweet anti-inflammatory properties, which might speed up the healing process while easing discomfort, but we need more proof.
Pro tip: You can also apply a bit of thick natural yogurt to the burned area. This is a great alternative for folks who aren’t fans of drinking milk straight up.
Honey is the bee’s knees. Not only is it good for the skin, it’s hella tasty, too. Studies show it can even be used as a topical burn wound treatment. Here’s why:
- Honey can act as a barrier to protect the wound as it heals.
- It’s natural antibacterial properties may reduce your chance of infection.
- It contains amino acids, proteins, and vitamins that might speed up healing.
To treat a mouth burn with honey, simply dab some onto the affected area. Apply a few times a day for the best results.
Try to avoid stuff that will irritate your burn until your mouth is back on track, including:
- Acidic foods. These can include tomatoes, orange juice, and coffee, which can all be irritating AF.
- Spicy foods. Hot sauce on a wound? No, thank you.
- Mint and menthol. You might want to swap out your mint or cinnamon toothpaste until your burn is healed. Both of these ingredients can be very tingly and inflame your burn.
- Alcohol and cigarettes. They’re harsh on your mouth at the best of times, but definitely best avoided until you’re up and running again.
- Hot drinks. Mistakes were already made. Don’t tempt fate twice.
Picking PSA: You might be very tempted to pick the loose skin off your burn. But don’t! Picking at it will just make matters worse. It can increase the time it takes to heal and can bump up the chance of infection.
If your mouth feels the burn — but you didn’t eat anything hot — something else might be to blame. Here are some other reasons why you might have a burning mouth.
Oral allergy syndrome (OAS)
OAS can cause itchiness or swelling of the throat, tongue, mouth, face, and lips. Symptoms tend to pop up right after you eat food your immune system thinks is suspicious. Common culprits include raw fruits, veggies, and nuts. Unlike a true food allergy, OAS isn’t usually super serious. But it can cause severe throat swelling in rare cases.
Have you ever eaten a hot pepper your mouth can’t cash? Same. Eating spicy food can cause a burning sensation in your mouth. The level of discomfort depends on how spicy the food is and your general tolerance of hot foods.
PSA: Sometimes the burn is just as bad on its way out as it was on the way in 🌶️💩.
Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that causes a scalding sensation in your mouth without an obvious cause. You might also have symptoms like:
- dry mouth
- a tingling sensation
- a weird tase in your mouth
There are a few underlying medical conditions that can cause BMS, including:
- acid reflux
- jaw clenching
- tooth grinding
- thyroid issues
- vitamin deficiencies
So, the majority of us who have experienced burn-by-pizza can relax. If you’re checking out your pie-hole in the mirror, and the roof of your mouth looks red and uncomfortable, but not too badly injured otherwise, then you’ve got a first-degree burn. Try the home remedies we’ve suggested above, and you may be fine.
Most folks who have sustained a minor mouth burn can relax. First-degree burns are the most common type of mouth burns. While they’re not fun, they usually don’t require medical treatment. Second- or third-degree burns are a different story.
You might have a more serious burn if you experience:
- weeping skin
- severe swelling
- skin that goes paler than usual when you touch it
It’s a good idea to contact a healthcare professional if you suspect you might have a food allergy or burning mouth syndrome. They can give you a correct diagnosis and offer treatment tips for your unique sitch.
Burning the roof of your mouth sucks. But minor burns usually heal on their own in a week or so. In the meantime, you can try an at-home remedy like:
- cold food or drinks
- mouth rinses
- OTC pain relievers or oral anestethics
- aloe vera
- yogurt or milk
Talk with a healthcare professional if you have chronic swelling, itching, or burning in your mouth. They can run some tests to see what’s going on. Also, contact a doctor if you have signs of a more serious burn or mouth infection.